11.26.2008

Goodbye, Show with the Best Opening Theme Song Ever

And so it ends. Seasons of The Shield often remind me of the Rolling Stones concert film, Gimme Shelter. Both start off slow moving -- almost boring -- then pick up steam, eventually turning into fiery freight trains rumbling towards an inevitable end. Last night's broadcast being the series finale of the show, the audience knew it was most certainly not going to end well.

Did Vic Mackey get his comeuppance for years of jumping well beyond the line rather than toeing it? He got exactly what he wanted -- legal immunity for his sins -- at the price of alienating his last few friends and abandonment by his ex-wife and kids. After the absolute rollercoaster of events leading to Vic's (and everyone else's) fate, I can't decide if I feel sad, relived or angry about how he ended up. Probably a mix of all three.

A lot of the critics are likening the complexity of The Shield to that of The Wire, another cop show that ended its run this year -- it's true, a new viewer would have had a very difficult time understanding almost everything happening over the past 13 weeks, but I think it's more appropriate to point out the The Shield is a spiritual heir to Homicide: Life on the Street (despite Wire creator David Simon having written for and produced Homicide). It's built almost purely on emotion and visceral energy -- I don't recall The Wire's focus on minutiae ever making me want to punch anyone in the face after watching an episode.

In short -- one of the best shows on TV leaves the medium on its own terms, with one of the best and satisfying finales I've ever had the pleasure of viewing.

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